The IDF has turned over a small border area in southern Lebanon to Lebanese and international troops, military officials said Thursday, a symbolic move meant to pave the way for a beefed-up UN force to move in to prevent a new flare-up in violence.
The pullback came as Lebanon's prime minister appealed to an international donors' conference for help in rebuilding his country, telling the gathering that the recent war with Israel wiped out "15 years of postwar development." Officials said more than $900 million (â‚¬700 million) was pledged.
Israel sent up to 30,000 ground troops into Lebanon during the recent 34-day war against Hizbullah guerrillas. When the fighting ended, Israeli troops occupied a zone about 15 kilometers (10 miles) inside Lebanon.
Since a UN-brokered cease-fire took effect Aug. 14, Israel has been slowly transferring control of that area to Lebanese troops, bolstered by UN peacekeepers. Before the war, Hizbullah was effectively in charge of southern Lebanon, which they used as a base to launch sporadic attacks on Israel.